Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 25, 2014
*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: SPF lumber mills continued to sell volumes at moderate discounts in an effort to bolster order files, some reporting a slightly firmer approach to prices by the end of the week. Enhanced sales activity early was due to a strong upward move in futures on Monday. After five or six weeks, depending on the item, of falling #2 prices in Southern Pine dimension lumber, most prices gathered upward momentum. Producers reported improved sales, some of it due to improving demand in northern regions of the U.S. Coastal species lumber prices were mixed, depending on the amount of demand each item drew. Slower green Doug Fir sales prompted discounts for most items. In dry, producers experienced improved sales activity, particularly at midweek. Inland species lumber traders used words like “uneventful” and “subdued” to describe the markets this week. Offerings of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr from New Zealand were limited and most were spoken for as soon as they were offered. Ponderosa Pine producers reported good sales volumes and firm pricing for #2 Shop, especially for 6/4. Ponderosa Pine board producers avoided the downward price adjustment many predicted would come when mills began to process their Ponderosa Pine log decks to avoid the onset of spring blue stain. Eastern White Pine producers reported strong inquiries and sales for both Standard and Industrial grades. Some mills reported order files out 3 weeks or more, and others indicated they oversold Standard and Industrial. End users in northern states perceived last week’s snow flurries as winter’s final gasp and began to unleash pent-up demand for Western Red Cedar. Retailers in the upper Midwest reported strong sales, prompting them to reenter the market to purchase more volumes.
Panels: OSB markets in regions of the U.S. and western Canada saw inquiries and sales volumes increase. Eastern Canada did not get the love that other regions did. Traders reported a busy week. Southern Pine plywood mills experienced strong sales activity, enabling them to push prices higher. With mills selling firmly in the week of May 12, and a few out a week further, some went off the market to harness order files. Western Fir plywood mills received a burst of sales activity from buyers looking to replenish inventories. Despite the acceleration in prices and demand, buyers purchased conservatively. Wholesalers were wary about buying back in at the higher price levels. What started out as a quiet week, with some Canadian plywood market players taking the Monday after Easter off, ended up with a flurry of sales at varying price levels. As mills booked business and order files extended, discounts began to dry up. Particleboard sales at eastern mills remained steady, and mills often sold another week of production or more. Mixed reports came out of the West, where moderate sales combined with strong mill takeaways. MDF sales were lackluster, and buyers had little trouble securing needs.
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Houzz reads temperature of landscaping market
A new Houzz study examines the many motivations behind landscaping projects in 2014, and they range from the purely practical to the pleasure-seeking.
Among the findings were that 56% are improving their yard for entertaining purposes, and 55% are seeking to problem-solve (that’s 41% to protect against flooding, 25% to protect against sun exposure, and 23% to create more privacy). Additionally, 30% of homeowners in the West are attempting to find drought-related solutions.
“Smart landscape design can solve real problems that affect a yard or home, from privacy and shade to water use and nighttime safety,” said Liza Hausman, VP community for Houzz. “A professional landscape designer or contractor can often provide the best solutions to these problems and turn your yard into a space you can enjoy for years.”
Backyards are also being used in a variety of ways — most popularly as enteratining spaces (83%), followed by outdoor eating spaces (73%) and outdoor living rooms (53%).
Among the features homeowners are incorporating are patios and decks (83%), BBQs (48%), fire pits (48%), sound systems (19%) and outdoor kitchens (14%).
Green features are also a hit, with 58% adding LED lighting outside, and 56% adding solar-powered lights. Native plants are a preference for 92% of homeowners, though more for maintenance reduction (67%) than eco-friendliness (49%). A good chunk (64%) are planning to grow their own edibles, with approximately 70% of those growing edibles for the first time. "Edibles," in this case, typically means herbs (73%), but vegetables (70%) and fruit trees (51%) are close behind.
The Spring Houzz Landscaping Survey took the pulse of more than 4,500 Houzz users who are currently landscaping (or planning to).
PPG rolls out pro branding makeover
A three-pronged approach to reaching the pro, including an expanded pro program at Home Depot, is the new brand strategy from Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries’ branding makeover.
The company describes the new brand strategy as a way to better serve the professional customer.
The three elements of the plan are:
- Rebrand the U.S. company-owned paint stores under the PPG Paints brand;
- Expand brand and product offering through independent paint dealers; and
- The expansion of a pro customer program at The Home Depot.
“The professional customer represents approximately 60% of the paint purchased and applied in the United States and is an extremely important part of our business,” said Scott Sinetar, PPG VP architectural coatings, North America. “We pride ourselves on being the best in the industry at meeting the needs of the pro, and this clarified brand alignment helps us demonstrate that position.”
All 600-plus PPG company-owned stores currently operating under the PPG Pittsburgh Paints, PPG Porter Paints and Glidden Professional brands will be rebranded under a PPG Paints brand by the fall of 2014.
For independent dealers, the company will take advantage of the 2013 acquisition of AkzoNobel’s North American coatings business to create dealer exclusive brands launching in late 2014. The products will incorporate Devoe paint sub-brands under the PPG Pittsburgh Paints brands.
At Home Depot, PPG says it will work more closely with the Atlanta-based retail giant, leveraging the Glidden Professional brand with joint marketing and sales efforts. Those efforts directed at the pro business will begin in May.